Seven in ten self-employed contractors said they are stressed out by doing their own financial accounts, a new survey reveals.

The self-employed are the fastest growing section of the UK workforce, and the survey of 359 self-employed contractors found almost three quarters (72 per cent) do all their own accounting, with just 28 per cent getting some help.

Only 7 per cent employ a specialist accountant to do their accounts, while 18% employ a general accounting firm and two per cent rope in family or friends, found the survey by SJD Accountancy.

Of those contractors who do their own accounts, nearly seven in ten (69 per cent) said it causes them some degree of stress.

When contractors were asked what the most stressful thing about doing their accounts is, over a third (35 per cent) flagged worry about making mistakes, 15 per cent the time it takes, 13 per cent the complexity of the process and one in 20 (5 per cent) worried about being hit with financial penalties.

These amateur accountants’ concerns appear well founded too: 17 per cent said they had lost receipts, 11 per cent had paid too much tax, 8 per cent had made a late or incorrect payment to HMRC and 7 per cent had missed a deadline to pay their taxes, which means being hit with a penalty of at least £100.

And more than a third of contractors said that doing their accounts is causing them personal problems.

One in ten (11 per cent) said they lose sleep, 6 per cent said it leads to arguments with family, friends or colleagues, five per cent said they have had to turn down paid work due to accounting commitments and three per cent said it has even made them ill.

Nick Rawlings, commercial director of SJD Accountancy, said: “Doing your accounts is complicated, so it’s no wonder it is causing so many contractors stress and other problems.

“It’s a growing issue too. There are currently 4.81 million self-employed people in the UK, which is up from 3.2 million five years ago, and now represents 15 per cent of all workers.

“But it doesn’t have to be this way. Having a specialist accountant on board can free up your time to focus on what you do best, providing a first-class service for your clients and growing your business.”

It’s clearly not part of the job that they relish, with over a third (35 per cent) describing it as a necessary evil, while one in ten (10 per cent) said ‘I really don’t like it” and one in 20 (5 per cent) said they ‘hate it’.

And they have far better things they could be doing with their time.

Over a third (37 per cent) would rather spend that time with their family, almost a fifth (19 per cent) would prefer to be learning a new skill, over a sixth (17 per cent) would rather be travelling and over a seventh (15 per cent) would prefer socialising.